Katz grapples with wrestling venture

Exec starts WWE rival 'Wrestling Revolution'

What started out as frustration has evolved into a business.

Jeff Katz, a former Fox and New Line exec who worked on “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Freddy vs. Jason,” will start lensing “Wrestling Revolution,” a 13-episode wrestling series that Image Entertainment has come aboard to distribute via e-tailers like Apple, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix before packaging it as a DVD in North America.

After growing increasingly disgruntled with the plotlines of WWE’s TV shows, Katz reached out to wrestling fans on Twitter to gauge whether they’d be willing to help raise $100,000 to fund “WR.” Katz hit the mark June 22, receiving coin from 182 contributors after starting to seek pledges May 6 through Kickstarter.com.

Production on the series begins in October in Los Angeles.

Katz says skein will revolve around a group of 22 wrestlers in a storyline with a three-act structure — something he said has been impossible for WWE to do with its two weekly series, “Monday Night Raw” on USA Network and “Friday Night SmackDown” on Syfy, given that the shows air 52 weeks a year without breaks.

“The actual storytelling and production structure of wrestling today doesn’t lend itself to telling complete stories,” he said. “People who are willing to sample (“WR”) will get something that, at the very minimum, that will have a complete storyline, like a comicbook,” said Katz, who has also created graphic novels including “Booster Gold” at DC Comics.

Katz has enlisted music composer Brian Tyler (“Fast Five,” “The Expendables”) to provide the soundtrack for “Wrestling Revolution,” Gary Frutkof (“Shoot Em Up,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Prison Break”) to handle production design, and Colin Strause, co-founder of f/x shop Hydraulx (“Battle: Los Angeles,” “Iron Man 2”), to assist with the visuals.

Project was born “out of my rants on Twitter,” Katz said. “I realized that as a longtime wrestling fan, I was watching (WWE’s shows) out of force of habit for the past several years.”

With a small budget, Katz sees “WR” as more of an indie film than a TV show. The way it will be distribbed will also take advantage of newer digital methods.

“I’ll never compete with WWE in terms of their cash reserves, their history or scale,” Katz said. “The only way I can do this is by doing something that’s creatively different,” which has meant “using the tricks that I learned from 12 years in Hollywood.”

“I’m not claiming I won’t screw it up, but at the minimum it does offer something different from what we get 90% of the time on television.”

Katz started his career at Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling, which WWE later purchased, so “anyone who knows me probably will not be surprised that I’m doing this,” he said. “I owe my career to wrestling. I’m the guy that had the big Rick Flair and Hulk Hogan belt hanging next to movie posters in my office.”

Katz thinks he already has an audience for “WR.”

“Wrestling fans are a unique group in that they’re hard to get to watch shows before or after wrestling. But if it’s wrestling stuff, they’re hardcore.”

More Film

  • Toronto Film Festival Lineup

    Toronto Film Festival: 'Joker,' 'Ford v Ferrari,' 'Hustlers' Among Big Premieres

    This year’s Toronto Film Festival will feature super-villain origin stories, splashy literary adaptations, and Tom Hanks as the most beloved performer in children’s television. The Canadian celebration of all things movies unveiled its 2019 lineup on Tuesday, and it appears to be an eclectic mixture of glossy awards bait, auteur-driven indies, and populist crowd-pleasers. It’s [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone Variety Cover story

    Sylvester Stallone Feels Robbed of an Ownership Stake in 'Rocky': 'I Was Furious'

    Sylvester Stallone shares an uncanny, symbiotic connection with Rocky, the underdog boxer character he created four decades ago — a kindred spirit who served as his creative muse in spawning one of Hollywood’s most successful film franchises. In his long career Stallone also played another memorable screen role — John Rambo — but Rocky was [...]

  • Beware of Children

    First Trailer Released for Venice Days Entry 'Beware of Children' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the first trailer for Dag Johan Haugeruds’ politically and socially charged drama “Beware of Children,” which premieres as part of the Venice Film Festival’s Venice Days section. The pic, which is being sold at Venice by Picture Tree Intl., features the dramatic aftermath of a tragic incident in [...]

  • The Tower animated film about Palestinians

    ‘The Tower’ Animation Wins Japan's Skip City Festival

    “The Tower,” Mats Grorud’s animation about the plight of the Palestinians, as viewed through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl in Beirut, won the grand prize in the international competition at the 16th edition of Skip City International D-Cinema Festival. The film also scooped the section’s audience award. The Skip City festival, which launched in [...]

  • For web story

    Transgender Immigrant Pic 'Lingua Franca,' Thriller 'Only Beasts' to Bow at Venice Days

    New York-based Filipina filmmaker Isabel Sandoval’s “Lingua Franca,” about a transgender immigrant, is among 11 competition entries, all world premieres, that will launch from the Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section. The only U.S. entry set to compete in the section modeled on Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, “Lingua Franca” is Sandoval’s third work. It [...]

  • Female-Led and LGBTQ Narratives Win Big

    Female-Led and LGBTQ Narratives Win Big At Durban FilmMart Awards

    DURBAN–Female-driven narratives and daring portraits of queer culture around the continent were the big winners at this year’s Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, which handed out awards at a ceremony Monday night at the Southern Sun Maharani Hotel. Among the prize-winners were the story of a Zimbabwean woman [...]

  • Oscar Nominations Reactions Phyllis Nagy

    Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy Runs for Writers Guild Presidency, Citing Agency Stalemate

    Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy is challenging Writers Guild of America West’s incumbent president David Goodman, citing his handling of the bitter stalemate between the WGA and Hollywood agents. Nagy announced her candidacy online Monday night, a day before the deadline for filing. She made the announcement  in a private online group as part of Writers for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content